Emma’s Italian TEFL Adventure
Tell us about yourself. We’d love to know about your background and what drew you to teaching abroad, and more!
My name is Emma, I am from Dublin, Ireland. I studied sociology and art history at University College Dublin, where I graduated in September 2022. I honestly didn’t think about teaching seriously until one of my close friends told me about the TEFL Institute of Ireland. When we looked into the TEFL Italy internship more, we both thought it would be an excellent opportunity to live abroad and gain more experience and find a potential career in teaching. So, my friend and I moved to Rome and are currently teaching in two different schools in Rome.
Was it difficult to apply for a teaching internship in Italy? What was the process like?
I found this process easy due to the fact that the TEFL Institute of Ireland helped me a lot with searching for and getting interviews with schools across Italy. So the process was straightforward for me. Finding the right school for you can be difficult, but working with the TEFL Institute of Ireland was great in this aspect. Once you have completed the course, a dedicated team can help you secure your first teaching job.
Do you think your TEFL course prepared you to teach English in Italy?
I think the 120 hour TEFL course was helpful, but it didn’t exactly prepare me to teach. The course is entirely online; therefore, you don’t technically teach anyone until you are working in the English school. Although, the course was very manageable and helped me become familiar with the many teaching techniques.
What was your accommodation like? Was it hard to commute to school?
I am still living in my accommodation, it’s really lovely, the price is good and the people I live with are very friendly and welcoming. I live with 4 other people, in a 4 bedroom apartment and it’s located close to my school. Walking to school takes about 20 minutes to get there. Location and living close to the school was a huge factor when searching for accommodation.
Tell us more about your teaching. How big are your classes & how many hours a week have you been teaching?
The number of people in my classes ranges from 2-7 people. On average, probably about 4-5 people. My contract is 15 hours, but I work about 20-25 hours a week, which is fine for me.
How much would you budget for daily expenses?
Well, it really depends on the day, during the weekend I tend to spend a bit more. I go out with friends on Saturday night, we go for dinner and then a few drinks, so it’s usually about €40-50, a lot cheaper than Dublin! During the weekdays, I might get a coffee two or three times a week, so it’s about €2.50 for a cappuccino and cornetto. I go to the supermarket once a week and usually spend about €30-40 there which is also really good.
Did you experience any language barriers over there?
Yes, I experience language barriers pretty much every day but that’s expected. My Italian is not strong, and sometimes I have no idea what people are saying, but I try to learn phrases to use in the supermarket and in the bar (coffee bar, not pub).
Did you have time off to do some sightseeing?
More recently I have had more time to travel because I am not preparing so much for classes, so yes, I hope to do quite a bit of travelling in 2023. I went to Naples 2 weeks ago for the weekend, and I am going to Florence with some friends this weekend, which is really cool.
Did you travel alone? Was it hard to meet new friends?
I travelled alone but I have a friend who is also in Rome which is definitely helpful. It can be difficult to meet new people, especially when you don’t speak the language but you just have to get yourself out there and try to get chatting to all kinds of people wherever that may be, at the pub or in the school. So yes, it can be challenging to make friends in Rome.
What were 3 things about your experience in Italy that you did not anticipate?
I didn’t anticipate how much I would actually enjoy teaching to be honest which was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to not see my friends and family after a few months and I also didn’t anticipate how cheap life can be when you’re not in Dublin.
What are the locals’ attitudes towards foreigners?
Generally, the locals are very friendly towards foreigners in Rome (from what I’ve experienced). If you try to speak Italian to them, usually they will speak back in Italian because they know you are trying your best (or maybe they think you’re fluent, which is even better!).
Now that you’ve been teaching in Italy for a couple of months, can you tell us about the highlights of your experience, both inside and outside of the classroom?
Being able to travel to different cities around Italy which has been absolutely amazing, and meeting other teachers (and staff) who are all really nice and welcoming, I’m really lucky in my school because everyone is so helpful and kind. I really enjoy the independence of living abroad, you definitely take it for granted if you end up living in your parent’s house again.
Are you planning any other TEFL adventures?
Yes, I’m planning on hopefully working in another school after my contract is up in Rome, perhaps one of the schools in Spain. I really enjoy teaching, and I would love to see what life is like living in Spain so that is my next goal. We will see what happens next…